Terri and Becca went to stay overnight on the Lexington in Corpus Christi and Brent was in NYC. So I did “Tia” duty and stayed with Ben. Unfortunately (actually we decided it was GOOD fortune) he got sick so we spent the day together.

He wasn’t deathly ill so I made him do his math homework while I read two chapters of a colleagues Ph.D. dissertation in preparation for her speech to my class later in the day.

Of course as any parent knows, having a young person doing math in the household means you get into the action too.ben math

Once I won the battle of wits against the typical 7th grader questions about when, why, how algebra (I think it’s algebra. Isn’t that when you mix letters with numbers?) will ever be used, we hunkered down over his math book – it IS algebra; it says so on the cover – and I immediately began to ask myself when, why, how algebra has ever been important in my life.

But then we came to a word problem. I’ve always hated word problems (probably just a reflex), but this one made sense to me. It was about calculating telephone minutes with multiple rates. If the first 25 minutes are $1.01 and every minute after that is .09. How many minutes did Jenny talk if her bill was $9.56?

I know this answer. You take out the $1.01 from the $9.56 to get $8.55 which you divide by .09 per minute for 95 minutes. Then you add back the 25 minutes you took away when you subtracted the $1.01 and the answer is 120 minutes. Voila

But we weren’t off the hook just because we solved the problem.

Oh no!

We had to have an equation!

An equation?

Who needs a friggin’ equation?

We solved the problem.

Poor kid, he’s on his own until his dad comes home!

That was pretty grueling and since he’d been sick the night before, I managed to convince him to nap a 30 minute nap. Personally, I probably needed it more than Ben!

While I facilitated my online Technology, Colleges and Community Conference (TCC2008) and the Civic Entrepreneurship class I teach for the UIUC grad Library School Community Informatics program, Ben was in charge of dinner. But before it was time to start prepping dinner, Ben was right behind me in his father’s office offering words of support and encouragement during my interview with Ellen Knutson a recently appointed Ph.D. who did her dissertation on libraries and civil society. Not wanting to break my concentration on my screen and my introduction on the phone line being piped to my students, Ben resorted to ichatting me from 5′ away.


It’s pretty cool to have a cheerleader in the background while I’m in class!

For ninety minutes, I sat in the family office just across from the kitchen trying to focus on libraries and civil society in Russia while scents of onions and garlic wafted under the door. When class was done, Ben escorted me (with my eyes closed) into the dining room and this is the sight that greeted me.


Ben had made a fabulous dinner of Ratatouille with Gnocchi, and Olive kebobs with Turkey, and Merlot (for me). He had OJ!!!!

Olive oil
red pepper
2-4 crushed garlic cloves
4 small zucchini sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c chopped basil
parmesan cheese
cooked gnocci

Saute onion and garlic. add zuke and tomatoes. Cook about 30 minutes. Add gnocchi

After we cleaned up the kitchen, we watched Ellen deGeneres’ stand up show, “Here and Now” for about the tenth time and took turns reciting the punch lines along with her.

We danced to songs on my iPhone (I even let Ben lead!) and then he went to bed early just to make sure he would be well for school. Pretty good date!


with ben